Since my life is more than shoes...

I thought I'd share it with you

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Everyone knows how much I love my home state, even though it's a little cold and a little empty. Maybe we just feel defensive about everyone picking on us, and so then we just love our state all the more. But I do think it's pretty funny that everyone I run into down here says, "Oh, Vermont! It must be beautiful this time of year!" Even though 90% of them have never been there. I guess they just have a picture of it in their minds (and it's probably actually of New Hampshire), and assume that it must be spectacular (which it is). But then, no one wants to live there. I think it's pretty funny that so many people live in places like Texas (or insert midwestern states here - although I shouldn't malign Texas because I've never actually been there - I have, in fact, been to all of the "midwestern" states that aren't considered "southern"), even though you probably won't hear someone say, "Oh it must be so beautiful this time of year," about 70% of the states in this country. Why do people insist on living in places that don't actually look nice (ok, practical people - don't tell me it's just the jobs - if more people lived in pretty places, the corporations would open offices there)? I just don't get it. I know people move to the south because of the weather, but what about Wisconsin? Sure, it's green and has pretty leaves (and some maple syrup), and it does border a Great Lake, but do you want to live there in the summer when it's hot and humid and 90 degrees, or in the winter when it's freezing cold and 10 below (trust me, it's colder and hotter than Vermont)??? There aren't even any mountains to enjoy the snow. But then, maybe Vermont wouldn't be as beautiful if people actually lived there.


I first learned about pilates about 10 or 11 years ago when one of my mom's friend's daughters was talking about them. She was (and is) a ballet dancer - at the time she was a dance major at Mount Holyoke College in Vikki's favorite state: Massachusetts (which I think I spelled correctly - it seems that once you move away from New England you forget how to spell the states). Anyway, her explanation to me, a 12 year old, was that it was a set of muscle exercises that dancers use. And muscle exercises they are. I never would have thought, by looking at the pictures in the book, that these exercises would challenge me at all. However, I think they can be made to challenge just about anyone, even people who are actually in shape (which I was at one time in my life). I'm not saying you're going to be so sore that you can't move, the way you feel after you do as many situps as you can in one minute (remember those government fitness tests in elementary school? you could be a presidential fitness something or other and you got a little piece of paper that said so). Anyway, you just kind of feel like you worked your stomach a little bit, which, once I figured out that was the cause of my slight stomach discomfort (and not some poorly chosen meal), was rather comforting. I had worked hard enough to remind my muscles to wake up, but not so hard that I couldn't get out of bed in the morning. That's my type of exercise. Unlike Jimmy and Andy, I don't think any amount of sweat is a pleasant experience, and I'm certainly not looking to feel the way I used to feel after the first week of double cross country practices after a long, lazy summer. That's what sweating reminds me of, and it's just not pretty...

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Synthetic Motor Oil

I want to talk about oil because people are still under the impression (helped along by places like Jiffy Lube) that you have to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles. Now, that is certainly true of my dad's old VW Beetle, where almost everything has to be changed every 3,000 miles, but most cars just don't need that kind of thing, especially if you use synthetic motor oil. Andy and I were discussing the Mini's next (well, really first) oil change on Sunday, and one of our friends overheard us. He said, "no oil change until 10,000 miles?! That doesn't sound right!" Well, in fact, it is right, and it's what the dealer recommends. Why? Because, depending on the type of driving you do, 10,000 miles give or take, is fine, and safe, for most cars. Now, if you do a lot of stop and go, you probably don't want to wait until 10,000 - maybe 7,500 max - of course, if you have a Mini, it has a computer that analyzes that kind of thing and tells you pretty much when you should go in for a change.

Anyway, my dad has been using Mobil1 (synthetic oil) almost since its inception who knows how many years ago. Knowing my dad, I know that he did as much research as could be done and asked every car guy he knew within hundreds of miles. He never changes the oil more than once per year, even when our now 10 year old truck was brand new. Now you might be thinking, well, that's just your dad, but let me tell you that even the guys from CarTalk agree, although I couldn't exactly find what I was looking for. In this article, they comment that you can go 5,000 miles before an oil change, and they don't appear to be mentioning synthetic oil.

So the next thing you might be thinking is cost - yes, Mobil1 and other synthetic oils do cost more. I don't know how much "regular" oil costs because I don't buy it - I did, however, buy a quart of Mobil1 at KMart just the other day for $4.99. 4 quarts at $5 is $20 vs., say, 4 quarts at $1.50 each - that makes $6 - seems like a lot, eh? Well, when you change your oil 1/3 as often, now you're up to $18 for the regular stuff and just $2 more for the synthetic. But, then think about this: do you change your own oil? I would if I could, but our apt. complex doesn't allow such things in its parking lot (understandably so)... Anyway, so you go to Jiffy Lube and spend $30 for an oil change each time (I have no idea how much it costs there - that's just an estimate) - well, assuming that the cost ratio for synthetic vs. regular oil is the same as it is in the store (you know they jack up the price of a quart at the dealer, don't you?), then you're saving almost $60 per year and not hurting your car one little bit. And, you're helping the environment by using less oil!

We always get our oil changed at the dealer - sure it costs more, but when it comes to genuine brand name oil filters, that's not such a bad thing - apparently, at least with Saab, they have a special valve that does something to prevent the dirt from going back into the engine. You'd have to ask my dad about the specifics. Anyway, spend a few extra bucks, go to the dealer, and tell them you want synthetic oil. My dad uses Mobil1, but a lot of companies have synthetic oil these days, and I'd imagine that the difference is pretty small. It's worth it.

Or, get someone to show you how to change your own oil. You'll be glad you did. It gets a little messy, but it is one of the easiest things to do on a car - definitely easier than changing a tire - and it's really cheap. If you're like my dad, you even pre-buy the oil when it's on sale, and you get it for much less than $5 a quart. But be sure to buy a new oil filter - you don't want to go through all the trouble to change the oil but not put on a new filter! Of course, when you do that at a dealer, sometimes they look at you a little funny - you just want a filter, but no oil change? Just say yes, thank you, and have a nice day. :)

By the way, Andy says I talk about cars and the weather too much - I'll try to come up with something better soon.

Monday, June 28, 2004

The Secret of Good Lasagne

My husband tells me I make very good lasagne, which I find hillarious because it's my mom's recipe, and I'm not sure he likes much of anything that my mom makes. Anyway, I have been informed that I should share the secrets of my lasagne with the world. You never know when you might go to eat at someone's house and they serve lasagne. Wouldn't want to be eating something bad...

Anyway, the secret is cottage cheese. Most people put in ricotta, which I beleive is standard, but it can make your lasagne dry. Also, cottage cheese seems to melt a little bit, making your lasagne cheesier. Finally, runny lasagne (which mine often is) does taste better, even if it doesn't look better. Here's my recipe for anyone who is interested - I have no idea where my mom got it, so I apologize if it actually belongs to someone important, but I have modified it from hers, so it probably isn't the same anymore anyway...
2 regular size jars of Prego (yes, the brand matters - I guess you could use your favorite) pasta sauce (or 1 big jar that adds up to the same size)
1 lb ground turkey OR firm Tofu (cut the tofu up really small so that it can be mistaken for cheese if you don't want anyone to know what it is) you can use beef, but let's be healthy here
1 clove garlic, minced
12-16 oz shredded mozarella
1 lb lasagne noodles (the regular ones, not the "cook in the oven" ones)
2 24 oz containers of lowfat cottage cheese (you can also use fat-free - no one will notice when it's all mixed up, even Andy - although the best brand is VT's own Cabot - I have been unable to locate their cottage cheese down here)
parmesan cheese
salt & pepper

1. Add lasagne noodles to a BIG pot of boiling water. Add a little oil to the pot to prevent sticking (I don't care what Alton Brown says - I think it helps). Cook until "underdone." They should be soft, but still stick in your teeth a little bit - not quite to the point you want to eat them. They'll finish cooking when baked.
2. Brown the turkey. Drain. (you don't have to cook the tofu ahead of time. If you choose to use tofu instead of turkey, just add it to the sauce.)
3. If you're going to make the lasagne right away, add the garlic to the sauce and warm it. Then add the turkey. Otherwise, don't bother heating it (you'll just have to put it in the fridge anyway)
4. Spray a BIG glass pan (at least 9x13, although 11x17 is best) with olive oil non-stick cooking spray (like Pam). If your pan isn't big enough in the end, just make a mini lasagne :) You can cook it in a metal pan, but watch out for burning around the edges.
5. Layer the ingredients in the following order, alternating the direction of the noodles for each layer: Noodles, sauce, cottage cheese, mozarella cheese, salt & pepper, parmesan cheese. If you want your noodles to be crispy on top (yum yum) put only enough sauce and cheese on top to prevent it from burning.
6. Bake uncovered for 1 hour (give or take) in a 350 degree oven. You may cover it with foil if it looks like it is about to burn. OR you may refrigerate the lasagne for a day or two and bake it at a later date. It might not take quite as long to cook if you bake it right after you make it - maybe closer to 45 minutes.
7. Let it rest for a few minutes after it has cooked (you don't want to burn your mouth anyway) to give it a chance to solidify a little bit. Serve.

Additional ingredients: add your favorite frozen or fresh veggies to the sauce (you'll definitely want to heat the sauce no matter what if you choose this option) to get some extra vitamins and make it an all-in-one meal.

Friday, June 25, 2004

The Parent Trap

Anyone seen the new version of The Parent Trap? It was on the Hallmark Channel last night, and I actually stayed up a little later than I should have to watch the end. It was pretty good, although Lindsey Lohan didn't quite deliver the classic lines as well as Hailey Mills. Or maybe she just did them in her own style, and I'm used to the "classic" lines. In any case, it did live up to the hype of being one of the better remakes I've seen, although, if you have a choice, just see the original. Somehow it just seems more believable that it could happen in the 60s than the 90s.

A new driver on the road

Congrats to Andy's brother Stephen for successfully completing his driver's test. I'm told he's the first one of the Vogel children to pass on the first try. Naturally, I passed on the first try. And we even had to parallel park between actual cars and not cones. It sure would be bad to fail because you hit another car!


That's right, fruit - the government says you're supposed to get a lot of servings of fruit every day. So, unless you buy orange juice, which tells you on the package, how do you know how much is enough? I have no idea. I'm sure you could find out using that glorious thing they call the internet. The point of this post is to tell you how to find the best fruits in your grocery store or farmer's market. So, in case your mom didn't tell you that a ripe cantelope is one that looks orange through that meshy outer thing, you should read this article! It's very enlightening.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Good stuff to know

Ever wonder what the shortcut to take you straight to My Computer is? Well, look no further than this handy-dandy list of great shortcuts for Windows and Applications.

Girls' night... in

Since Andy's got his little fishing expedition to go to, I've got the "fun car" (he might have to be one of the carpoolers, and the Mini just doesn't seat 4 adult-sized men very comfortably for 2 hours - apparently a lot of people there have Mini-sized cars - you'd think some of those engineers would have wives and minivans - but then maybe the wife needs the minivan to take the kid to soccer camp... anyway...) I've got the "fun car" and I'm staying in (not that I'm disappointed - I'd rather drive my car anyway). Jenelle and I are going to have lasagne (how on earth do you spell that?!) and some other goodies and just hang out. Considering the fact that I don't even remember the last time I did a whole "girls' night" thing (most of you know that girls, except certain ones that I am already friends with, kind of scare me), this should be fun. Apparently in the real world (ie not college), once you get married, you don't go over to someone's house and hang out with the husbands - the wives sit and talk about babies and the husbands talk about other things. It's a very strange change from the old days when my roommate and a couple of girls on my floor were the only girls I knew on campus.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Amazing truths

from Bill Clinton's new book... basically, I just thought this was funny: "In politics, if you don't toot your own horn, it usually stays untooted." (p. 586) No, I didn't read or buy the book - the condensed version is on Slate, and it's pretty much all you'll probably want to read, if the critics are correct.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Now, I love humidity a lot more than the next girl. This has a lot to do with an unpleasant experience during an arid Utah summer (I don't care what anyone says 97 degrees is hot, with or without humidity), as well as an unpleasant side effect of cold, dry weather, made worse by forced hot air heating (nosebleeds). I would just like to point out right now that if you happen to have issues with winter nosebleeds, get a humidifier. It saved my life - when I first went to college (also my first experience with forced hot air heat for an extended period of time), I got a nosebleed almost every other day for the entire month of January. During my sophomore year, I got a humidifier, and it definitely helped. I'm not saying they stopped completely, but it was more like once every two weeks or so, which is a huge improvement. Anyway, that's the main reason that I love humidity.

However, preventing nosebleeds is not the purpose of this post - I had a revelation as I walked to work: even though Raleigh supposedly has over 200 sunny days per year, they must not occur during the month of June. I guess it's the humidity, because we've had a little sun here and there (and a beautiful cool, clear day on Sunday), but basically, it's been threatening thunderstorms every day for the last 2 weeks, and so humid you can see the water in the air. I guess that's what happens when you combine high humidity with much higher temperatures than I've experienced. So, while Raleigh is sunny and beautiful in the winter (unlike a certain state I've experienced in January - and it's not VT), it appears that summer might be a little more unpleasant than I'd hoped.

All this goes to say that I guess there are good things and bad things about every state (although I can't think of too many good things to say about a few states - take North Dakota for exammple: their water tastes bad because they have a lot of odd little minerals getting into it, they certainly don't call them the badlands for nothing - yes, I know the national park is in SD, but they have them in ND, as well, it's just called Theodore Roosevelt National Park, it's hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter, and I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to it - but that's another story). So maybe it's time to open my mind a little bit. Of course, I won't be talking like this when it's 75 degrees in November :) Oh yeah and I haven't had a "real" nosebleed since I moved here. Now that's what I call paradise :)

Monday, June 21, 2004

Space flight update

I wrote about a private venture for manned space flight a few weeks ago. They made a successful flight just yesterday.

shopping and debit vs. credit

Ok first of all, I would like everyone to note how many times in the last month Andy has said, "I bought..." today. I think it is very unfair that he can find all these great clothes, and I can only find a few t-shirts that actually fit me (which I didn't buy because I, quite frankly, have a lot of t-shirts). I think there is something seriously wrong with the world when the men are buying more clothes than the women when the women aren't actually forcing the men to buy the clothes. Granted, Andy has needed all these clothes, and I need quite a few less things than he does, thanks to my shopping prowess in college, but is it asking too much to find something that fits me that isn't knit? I know that I am a little oddly proportioned, but you'd think I'd find something... oh well, I guess I'll just have to keep trying :) On a happier note, I bought some fleece at JoAnn to make a bed for my kitty. They were having a huge sale - so if anyone needs fleece, head on over to JoAnn.

Now on to the debit vs. credit debate. Andy and I were discussing this in the car yesterday, and I noted that your bank, or at least my old bank, actually wants you to use the credit instead of the debit because they are charged more by someone (the store? I have no idea who charges) when I use the debit (which is why the bank usually charges you a fee to use it as a debit card). Anyway, this led me to an epiphany this morning when I was driving to work: perhaps the store doesn't have to pay the 3 or whatever percent fee that they are charged by the credit card company when you use the card as a debit card. Instead, the bank pays the fee. I don't know this for sure, but it would make sense. That's why my dad pays cash whenever he shops locally - that way the local business gets all your money instead of paying a fee because you used a credit card. With a chain, who cares - they sell at such a big profit margin (yes, even WalMart, except for their "loss leader" items - if you don't know what those are, ask), that a few extra dollars lost because of a credit card doesn't matter. Trust me, I used to work retail, and I know the profit margin of the big stores. Let's just say that B&N was still making a huge profit whenever I purchased a book, even with the 30% employee discount.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Let's go ride a bike

on a busy street. Well, if you read yesterday's blog, you know the dangers of the street I drive on to go to work. This morning took the cake - I saw 2 people - that's right 2, not just 1 - riding their bikes on this road. Granted, at least one of them was a serious biker with those fancy clothes and everything, but the other was just a guy with a helmet. He did have a blinky red light attached to his butt, but, frankly, I don't see that making him a whole lot safer on a narrow, crowded road. I'm all for biking to work to save the environment, but let's be smart about it! Use the sidewalk (which I know isn't really legal, but he'd only have to do it for that narrow part, so I think a police officer would forgive him for trying to avoid being killed) so I don't have to watch cars fly by you about 6" away from your handlebars. Please, it's for my sanity and your safety.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Someone really did create the Internet...

Or at least the World Wide Web. Tim Berners-Lee just won a $1.2 million dollar prize in honor of the things he did for the creation of the internet. So it wasn't Al Gore after all :)

Yay Saab!

I drive about 5 miles to work. Most people would kill for such a short commute, especially around here, but the more I drive it, the more I am reminded of my leisurely (if long) drives to Barnes & Noble on the little country roads. There is one stretch of the road I take that goes from 2 lanes before the traffic light/intersection to 1 lane about 50 yards after the intersection. This makes for some interesting merges, especially when the road is a major artery to downtown and NC State. People are always doing crazy things for this merge, and I've almost been rearended on more occasions than I can count, because someone decides to fly in the left lane, slam on his brakes, and merge into a spot that really isn't big enough, which then causes everyone else to slam on their brakes. It's amazing that there aren't accidents there everyday.

On this particular morning, I got stuck in the right lane while someone decided to stop (while the traffic light was green), and let someone turn left out of the Burger King parking lot. Now, while this is a nice gesture, it was a really stupid one, because anyone who knows anything about this road, knows that the only time this person will get to go is when the traffic light is red and cars aren't coming the other direction. Needless to say, a lot of people got cranky, and I didn't make it through the light. I was, however, the first one at the light, and this is where the title of this post comes in. You wouldn't think that an old, rather heavy, and slightly underpowered 4 cylinder could win a race with an SUV, but my car took me where I needed to go this morning. The one thing I hate almost as much as people cutting in front of me just because I leave enough space between me and the car in front of me so that I don't rear end them, is when someone is in the left lane at that road and thinks that they are going to speed out at the traffic light and cut in front of me. Everyone in the whole city knows about this intersection, but they don't care, and choose to risk their life and mine. Feeling particularly annoyed by the stupidity, I decided I was at least going to try to go out strong from the intersection. Well, I don't think that SUV expected me, in my beige yuppy hatchback, to put up a fight, because I stayed even with him/her until they gave up and decided they would pull in behind me. I know some people (who shall remain nameless :) ) think my car is underpowered, which it is, and don't like to drive it, but I think it proved it still has some spunk today. At least I didn't get squished by the SUV :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


My cousin had her 5th baby this week. Yeah, that's right 5. Now, ordinarily, I think 5 babies is a lot, I mean, that's a ton of diapers to change. Now think about the fact that the oldest of her 5 babies is in 2nd grade (or thereabouts). Now think about the fact that she is 5 years older than I am (she'll be 28 any day now), and you realize that 5 babies can seem like a lot more than 5 babies when you've been changing diapers almost continuously for the last 8ish years. (yes, I'm aware that I don't know the exact age of my first cousins once removed - yes, that's right, the children of your first cousins are first cousins once removed - ask (first cousin once removed - though she's not the child of my first cousin, she's my dad's first cousin, so I'm the child of her first cousin) cousin Betty if you don't believe me - but there are a lot of cousins to take care of, and we do live in a different state - I'm lucky I know how old I am.) Anyway, I think having 1 baby is scary, but 5?? At least it wasn't all at once. Can you imagine 5 babies at one time???? I'm speechless.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


I'm surprised Jimmy hasn't mentioned the event that happened a few days ago: Venus passed in front of the Sun. In any case, there are a few interesting photos on this rather long article. Apparently this doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it happens 2x in the span of about 8 years (just read the article for the specifics, because I can't remember now) and then doesn't happen again for about a hundred years. So, in 2000-something, head on out to see it, because you won't see it again in your lifetime. Unless you turn out to be like Abraham or something...

I love my kitty!

Well, Andy pretty much summed up our cat in his latest entry, but she is just amazing. I've never seen anything like it. This morning, when she heard our alarm go off, she ran in the room and jumped on the bed to say hi. We had not moved yet, nor had we turned the light on. She just knew that Bill & Sherri on 101.5 meant only one thing: The people are getting up! Maybe they will play with me!

I went home for lunch yesterday to check on her, and to try to find the pet part of our lease so I knew how much of a deposit we had to pay for the little thing. I expected to find her hiding under the bed like she did the first time we went away. Instead, I went upstairs to find her staring out the window (every cat's favorite past time). So, other than the fact that she eats a lot less than any pet I've ever known (maybe it's a girl animal thing - we've always had boy animals), she seems to have adjusted quite well. I think she looks a little like an owl in that picture on Andy's blog, but she is the softest kitty you'll ever meet.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Sulfa Drugs

No, this isn't some new illegal drug fad, it's just a type of antibiotics that can be given for any number of infections. The interesting part of this post follows: if, when taking a sulfa drug, you break out in hives, stop taking said sulfa drug and call your doctor immediately. Apparently this indicates you are very allergic to sulfa drugs, and the next time you take one you could go into that shock thing (anapholaxic??) that makes your throat close up and you'll have to get stuck with an EpiPen to prevent death (They've been having some commercials about this where the mom is allergic to seafood and the kid gives her the EpiPen). How do I know this you ask? I got hives. Fortunately, mine weren't the "break out the epipen" hives. In fact, I just kind of thought they'd go away on their own after a few hours (that's what WebMD said). Then I read the side effects of my sulfa drug more carefully and started to think about the fact that I had been a little itchy ever since I started take it, and maybe I should call the doctor after all. A few benadryls and an allegra later, I'm doing all right. I don't remember too much of Monday night, though, since I did spend it in a benadryl induced coma from 7pm on. Next time, the doctor warned, I could die. So kids, don't go playing around with sulfa drugs, or I'll have to stick you with Andy's epipen (he's allergic to bees, don't you know)

Friday, June 04, 2004

Big Money

I hope you don't own stock in Ford... A jury just awarded a woman $369 million in damages after whe was paralyzed when her Explorer rolled over 4 1/2 times. Apparently not everyone thinks it was just the tires. Ford is appealing the decision. That's why I drive a Saab. Those Swedes sure make safe cars :)

Thursday, June 03, 2004

This one's for Jimmy

Interested in space flight? Try a private company hoping to launch (haha) a new era of space travel. And win a $10 million dollar prize.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The South, Krispy Kreme Style

My best friend was in town for a few days, so last night we did what we always do with out of town guests: take them to Krispy Kreme. The experience was heightened by the fact that they had already visited some friends in another part of the South who hyped Krispy Kreme like crazy, only to find out that the store in their town had closed. So, a disappointed little Vermonter arrived at our door, only to learn that not only would we go to Krispy Kreme, but she could eat her fill and then some (we had a buy 1 dozen get a dozen free coupon). I think Andy at 4.5 donuts, a new record for him. I learned my lesson after the first KK event and ate only 3. That seems to be a number that satisfies me so that I feel like I have taken advantage of the hot now experience without thinking I might have to throw up if my stomach doesn't start digesting soon. So, if you're ever in town, and the Hot Now sign is on, we'll do our best to take you to Krispy Kreme as well. It's all a piece of the Southern life. That and the Smoker Friendly gas stations (it's a brand like Turkey Hill and Handee Hugo's BP)...